Radio Flyer & the Road to Personal Selling

As a  kid in the late 60’s  I began my entrepreneurial career as a reseller of glass, primarily pop and beer bottles, we (one of my brothers or a friend) would grab our Radio Flyer wagon (great brand) and hit the streets and alley’s in the very small town where I grew up. We would go door to door and ask for empty bottles,rummage through garage’s and garbage cans in search of  inventory, our only cost was our time. The Coke bottles brought in the highest revenues and the beer bottles with the ring around the top came in second, at least that’s how I remember it. In the summer of 1970 we moved into the pharmaceutical business in the form of peeling the bark off cascara trees. We would use a knife and peel the bark off trees load the bark into gunny sacks take it home and haul the sacks up onto the roof of our house and lay the bark out to dry. When dry we would then load it back into the sacks and deliver the bark to the buyer in our town. I believe it was used to make ex-lax. That fall I saw an ad in Creepy Magazine that stated how I could get some cool toys for selling their greeting cards. I never did win the giant  toy giveaways that Brakeman Bill used to do, although my friend Eddy Burgesson did. This seemed to be as close to that windfall as i might get. For one dollar I ordered my first supply of greeting cards. When my cards came in I quickly hit the streets and sold my inventory in fairly short order. As I ordered more cards I would earn points and I would purchase toys with my points. One day while selling door to door a man answered (men were a much harder sell than women) and I asked for the lady of the house, he indicated that she was away so I gave him my pitch. He must have been impressed because he offered me a job selling for his small but budding newspaper business (The Daily Log) I was 10 years old. I have been pitching products and services and helping others do the same ever since.

Effective Sales people come in all shapes and sizes,personality types and with all kinds of handicaps. After 4 decades of selling I have come to believe the traits of effective sales people are universal, few and simple. Here they are.

1. Have a reason: Does not matter much what it is, just that you have one. You may loose one along the way but you must find another.

2. Organized: Yourself, Clothes, Car, Desk, Collateral, Technology, Day, Week and Month.

3. Database: Solid intelligent CRM program with excellent metrics loaded with prospects whose evolution reflects more and more your ideal customer.

4. Communication: In person, over the phone, email, newsletters and video. Use it all, be visible and stay top of mind.

5. Read: Gain insights and use those insights to improve the first four traits.

If these 5 traits are present  you are most likely living large, if not connect to your reason, pull out the Radio Flyer and hit the streets!

About Tom Rose

Tom Rose is beginning his 17th year as CEO, Thomas Center Business and Management Consulting, located in Woodinville, Washington. Most clients have been with him for more than 10 years. Tom’s unique approach is founded on the principle of collaboration.

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1 Comment for this entry

Carrie Lee
October 25th, 2010 on 5:46 pm

Since a Radio Flyer sits in my living room I am particularly fond of your story. Keep em coming….